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Ugandan court rejects bid to nullify homosexual law

Ugandan court rejects bid to nullify homosexual law


Ugandan court rejects bid to nullify homosexual law

KAMPALA, Uganda — Uganda's Constitutional Court on Wednesday upheld a law that calls for serious consequences for those guilty of what the law calls “aggravated homosexuality.”

President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill into law in May last year. The law is supported by many in the East African country.

Activists had contested the law in court, but the judges declined to overturn it in their ruling, saying it was legally passed by parliament and does not violate the constitution.

“We decline to nullify the Anti Homosexuality Act 2023 in its entirety; neither would we grant a permanent injunction against enforcement,” Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera said.

The court, however, ruled that members of the gay community should not be discriminated against when seeking medication.

“They should be medically and culturally accepted,” Buteera said.

The law defines “aggravated homosexuality” as cases of homosexual relations involving a minor and other categories of vulnerable people, or when the perpetrator is infected with HIV. A suspect convicted of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” can be imprisoned for up to 14 years, and the offense of “attempted homosexuality” is punishable by up to 10 years.

Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda under a colonial-era law criminalizing sexual activity “against the order of nature.” The punishment for that offense is life imprisonment.

The United Nations expressed deep concern when the new law was passed, with the U.N. Human Rights Office calling it ”a recipe for systematic violations of the rights” of LGBTQ+ people and others.

U.S. President Joe Biden called the law “a tragic violation of universal human rights — one that is not worthy of the Ugandan people, and one that jeopardizes the prospects of critical economic growth for the entire country.”

The World Bank halted new loans to Uganda, saying additional measures were necessary to ensure projects align with the bank's environmental and social standards.

Homosexuality is criminalized in more than 30 of Africa’s 54 countries. Some Africans see it as behavior imported from abroad and not a sexual orientation.